You can destroy an ideology on the battlefield

You can destroy an ideology on the battlefield by @GraySargeant

Too often the old adage ‘you cannot destroy an idea’ is used as an excuse to do nothing when liberal values are confronted by extremism. The phrase has been resurrected once again to rebut those advocating increased military action against Islamic State. But history shows us that ideas can be beaten when the people that promote them are challenged.

There is no single explanation for the rise and fall of ideologies but they do come and go. The days when Marxism-Leninism inspired leaders in the Third World are long gone. Its fate tied to the Soviet Union which rapidly fell apart in the later part of the 20th century. The collapse of the USSR and its ideology shows that no matter how repressive a state might be or how enduring its ideology may seem at the time, ideas can quickly become extinct. Let’s hope that political Islam will soon join Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history.

The nature of Islamic State’s ideology makes it more difficult to discredit due to its religious dynamic. The ideas behind Islamic jihad are deeply rooted in the history of one of the world’s major faiths. The appeal of this extreme and politicised interpretation of Islam is unlikely to disappear in the near future.

However, one of Islamism most recent manifestations, Islamic State, can be beaten on the battlefield. Pushing Islamic State’s forces back will weaken its appeal. The military defeat of the messenger can shatter the credibility of the message. Prior to political Islam, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser spread Arab Nationalism across West Asia and North Africa. Nasser’s ideology was hugely discredited after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Israel’s pre-emptive strike landed such a military blow that Nasser prestige and his pan-Arab would never fully recover. We can ensure Islamic State’s message sees a similar fate.

Advertisements

The Diplomat of Islington North

By David Paxton

Diplomacy (noun): the work of maintaining good relations between the governments of different countries

Diplomat (noun): a person who represents his or her country’s government in a foreign country : someone whose work is diplomacy

A week ago Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn gave a long interview to Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy. This section, on his calling Hamas ‘friends’, immediately started doing the rounds due to Corbyn’s apparent loss of temper.

By just using that single word ‘friends’ against him Guru-Murthy left available to Corbyn the defence he decided to make. He said:

I spoke at a meeting about the Middle East crises, in Parliament, and there were people there from Hezbollah and I said “I welcomed our friends from Hezbollah” to have a discussion and a debate.

Later he said:

I’m saying people I talk to, I use it in a collective way saying ‘our friends were prepared to talk’. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is, to bring about a peace process you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.

On the surface this is almost plausible. This was indeed what a diplomat might say, it is the language of diplomacy. Political activist, satirist and comedian, Heydon Prowse seemed to agree and said:

What an idiotic line of questioning. Doesn’t c4 understand the concept of diplomacy

We had a brief discussion about his view. It didn’t go well.

In reply to Alan Johnson’s open letter to Corbyn addressing his previous praise for members of Hezbollah and Hamas, the website Left Futures carried a piece called Reactionary and Dishonest. In it is a more fleshed out version of Corbyn’s defence:

…the all too common view that anybody who supports dialogue and diplomacy with Hamas and Hezbollah must necessarily wholly endorse their politics as well.

Jeremy Corbyn was ahead of his time in recognising the need to talk to Sinn Fein and the IRA in 1984 when he invited Gerry Adams to London, and the same is true in relation to Hamas and Hezbollah. This farsighted act was subject to a furious barrage of criticism at the time, and yet now over 30 years later the importance of such acts of dialogue and goodwill in bringing an end to the Troubles could hardly be more uncontroversial.

…Corbyn also understands that peace can only be achieved through mutual respect and diplomacy.

I think it worth examining this notion that Jeremy Corbyn is a lone, extra-governmental diplomat bravely ahead of his time in seeking peace and that we cannot draw any other conclusion from his conduct.

BFFs

As mentioned, only the word ‘friends’ was brought up in the interview and without full context, Corbyn’s explanation has legs. Try this:

“We are gathered here for an important meeting of opposing views. On my right are some friends from the Black Panther Party and on my left are friends from the Ku Klux Klan. Hopefully by coming together as friends we can… etc”

That could get in under the excuse of being ‘diplomatic’.

Now try this:

“It is my pleasure and my honour to host an event where my friends from Stormfront will be speaking. I also invited friends from the Ku Klux Klan to speak but unfortunately the FBI won’t allow them to travel so it will only be friends from Stormfront. The Ku Klux Klan is an organisation dedicated towards the good of American people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice, and political justice.”

How does that sound to you? I don’t believe the latter example would be consistent with Corbyn’s claim “I use it in a collective way saying ‘our friends were prepared to talk'”. It goes well beyond standard diplomatic niceties.

Here is a video of the offending speech, see for yourself. He said exactly that about Hamas and Hezbollah and he was being very friendly indeed.

If he profoundly disagrees with them why claim the bit about social and political justice? Hamas’ form of ‘political justice’ is to execute their political opponents. Hamas’s ‘social justice’ is to murder people for being gay. Hamas’ ‘long-term peace’ includes a Charter clause calling for the destruction of Israel and the divinely ordained killing of Jews. And feeling ‘honoured’ to host holocaust deniers means either A: Corbyn thinks ‘honour’ means something it doesn’t or B: He has some fundamental problems with his morality.

To go as far in his praise as Corbyn does is grotesque and hints far more at outright support than the forced diplomatic nicety, while holding his nose, which one might tolerate or expect. Who would possibly say such a thing if they were not ‘friends’ or did in fact ‘profoundly disagree’? I think he is being deceptive in the Channel 4 interview and this should be taken into consideration by those so willing to repeat the claim that Corbyn is the straight-shooting candidate of unflinching honesty and integrity.

Who invited you anyway?

Yes, peace talks without a unconditional surrender require compromise, they require some holding of noses. After a successful peace has been forged such actions can indeed appear noble and worthy. However, this realisation can also be used to cover a multitude of sins and just talking, per se, is not necessarily a worthy and noble act.

John Major, who happened to be the actual prime minister and leader of the government, did a difficult and presumably correct thing in starting talks with the IRA. It was a careful and deliberate process that was straining against the idea that rewarding violence with power and representation might lead to more of the same. Do I have to laud Corbyn with the same praise when he invites IRA representatives to the Commons a fortnight after the Brighton bombing? This isn’t the brave and principled putting aside of grievance, this is rewarding and forgiving brutal terrorist violence directly following its most clearly anti-democratic expression by saying that the more they bomb the more they should be given a seat at the table. Imagine your young child is throwing a nasty tantrum in the supermarket because you refuse to give him sweets. Corbyn’s unilateral intervention is the equivalent of the unwelcome shop assistant butting in and saying ‘don’t be a meany, look at his little face, give him a Mars Bar.’ It’s undermining, it’s unwelcome, it’s not really his business. But these aren’t sweets in a supermarket, this is a murderous terror campaign.

This is not to say that a backbench MP cannot engage in dialogue that has little to do with his own constituents. However, in this case it is undermining the position of his own, and successive, governments at a time when its citizens were being murdered.

Corbyn’s stands on Israel and Northern Ireland require no holding of the nose and no compromise. He supports their positions. Ultimately the Northern Ireland peace process was about changing the means and agreeing to disagree on the ends. In Israel any future dealings with any groups will require the same. The difference between those outcomes and approaches and that of our renegade diplomat is that he wants an end to Israel and have it replaced with a Palestinian majority state. He also wants the reunification of Ireland. He supports the aims of these groups and doesn’t seem to think the means should exclude them from anything.

The Diplomacy of Adrian Mole Aged 66 & 1/4

Owen Jones said:

I’ve known Jeremy for years, and have shared numerous platforms with him on issues ranging from peace to social justice. He is the very antithesis of the negative caricature of an MP: he’s defined by his principles and beliefs

Great. Corbyn has taken several positions on foreign affairs and so one would expect some common themes running through these positions that can tell us what he is about. Let’s try and define him.

He met with the IRA, but fine, some will consider this just Jezza the Diplomat diplomating, as he is wont to do. But at a Troops Out meeting in 1987, Jeremy stood for a minute’s silence to “honour” eight IRA terrorists killed at Loughall. That event brought about the end of activities of an Active Service Unit from the East Tyrone Brigade that had been blowing up police stations and executing those present. What principle and belief can we deduce from that?

From Andrew Gilligan’s Telegraph piece (worth reading in full):

Jeremy Corbyn was helping Sayyed Hassan al-Sadr celebrate “the all-encompassing revolution,” the 35th anniversary of the ayatollahs’ takeover in Iran. In his talk, entitled “The Case for Iran,” he called for the immediate scrapping of sanctions on the country, which had not then promised to restrict its nuclear programme, attacked its colonial exploitation by British business and called for an end to its “demonisation” by the West.

Corbyn has repeatedly praised members of Hamas. They kill gays, deny the holocaust and speak of starting a fresh one. He calls them a force for social justice.

He praised the leadership in Venezuela while the oil-rich country was being run into bankruptcy and the freedom of the press was being eroded.

Corbyn asserts that despite the wishes of the Falklands islanders, expressed through the ballot box, and despite a fascist junta invading them causing British servicemen to fight and die, the islands should be owned by Argentina.

Corbyn wants an end to Israel, the most democratic and law-bound state in the region. The call for a single state solution with a Palestinian majority is, under present circumstances, a call not just for the end of a Jewish state but for the end to those living within it. It is conceivable that some might believe protecting the racial or religious identity of a state is in principle wrong. However, choosing to ignore the unique circumstances and history of the Jews and decide this principle cannot be bent in their case, that they cannot expect a nation where they are a majority, while wanting them to be at the mercy of those who openly call for a new genocide is, at the very best, immoral.

Corbyn believes that the 1973 Chilean coup was ‘run’ by the CIA.

In that same Jones piece he said:

he was protesting against Saddam Hussein when the west was arming him

A more cynical person than I might well consider changing the word ‘when’ to ‘because’ to add greater truth to that statement.

Taken on their own each of these could be a difference of opinion or a forgivable misjudgment. But combined as a life’s work?

So is there a theme in Corbyn’s choice to consistently side with theocrats, homophobic thugs, genocidal fascists, murderers, terrorists, demagogues, deniers of freedom and exponents of oppression? Is there a belief in evidence when he praises the people who believe his own constituents are legitimate targets for car bombs and suicide vests? I think there is: Whatever his own government (Labour or Tory) wants, he is against. Wherever The Man is represented Corbyn is sticking it to him. And this stands in contrast to the slogans and lofty ideals spouted at the rallies he is so often seen at.

This therefore isn’t the CV of a great diplomat or a campaigner for peace and human rights. Nor do his pretensions for a role in international relations add up to a statesman of value and importance. He’s not even a gifted amateur. This is merely adolescence dragged out into late middle-age. He is less Otto Von Bismark than Otto from The Simpsons. Laughable in a pub bore but fairly tragic at the forefront of a political party with a noble history. Corbyn should be seen as what he is, a 66 year old teenager using the stature of his MP status to make a bigger noise than a man of his ability otherwise could or should. If you are looking for the next Clement Attlee, keep looking.

To observe the likes of Corbyn is to see the worst of the modern Left, where being seen to fight is more important than achieving the goals congruent with their slogans. Seemingly unaware of the victories the Left have won already, the need to keep sidestepping left has meant they’ve come out the other side and are now friends, allies and enablers of facists, racists, murderers and thugs. And worst of all, they expect a halo for being so.

Tunisia, Terror, & Internet Chomskyism

Social Media’s Che T-Shirt

by Navi Singh

After an Islamist terrorist atrocity has occurred, it is becoming increasingly popular for people – throughout political commentary in the UK – to counter the presumed ‘mainstream’ narrative usually by doing one of three things: engaging in whataboutery, highlighting perceived media double-standards, or essentially rationalising the perpetrator’s actions as constituting “resistance” or “retaliation” against a far greater evil: Western governments.

Why are these attitudes so popular, particularly among the younger generation? You could guess that these individuals are embittered (“spoilt” would be my preferred choice of word) and perceive their governments in a negative light because of comparatively trivial domestic shortcomings or minor maladministration. Consequently, unrestrained hatred directed towards the Conservative Party over their failure to adequately reprimand gargantuan corporations or punish avaricious bankers, for instance, often clouds their overall world-view. This is disastrously short-term egocentric thinking.

Yes, I’m not particularly fond of Mr Cameron, his party, their Thatcherist antecedents or unrestrained capitalism (whatever that means). But I hate theocratic totalitarianism more – because theocracies have an inherently supremacist nature. Theocracies are effectively analogous to systematically racist societies, because it stratifies society through religion in the same way Nazi Germany, for instance, subjugated ethnic minorities on the basis that they were degenerate sub-humans. Anathematising entire peoples as being inferior (whether that is biologically or religiously) is dangerous territory indeed, because it dehumanises. Dehumanisation is often a precursor to genocide or any other form of methodical persecution. Notwithstanding any physical repercussions, supremacist ideologies do not cultivate a particularly conducive environment for pluralistic ideals to flourish.

Moreover, theocracies are decidedly irreconcilable with the libertarian values that we cherish. As the constitution and legislature is derived from a (usually puritanical) interpretation of scripture, free-exchange of ideas and open discussion are necessarily obliterated because blasphemy injunctions prevail. That is the problem.

Denying Western “propaganda” and actively endeavouring to undermine the government’s official standing on these matters, by rejecting the fact that the terrorists are malevolent and the victims are innocent, becomes an expression of recalcitrance. It’s cool. You’re anti-establishment, dude! Long live the revolution! It is social-media’s equivalent to wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt in public. Does attention-seeking and a desire to be different and outrageous, also come into it? It probably does. Prominent celebrity Russell Brand – who has reinvented himself as a social-commentator – is testament to this. Brand – who dismissed attempts to commemorate the victims of the recent Tunisia beach massacre as “total bullshit” – has garnered a reputation somewhat for courting controversy. The same man, incidentally, referred to the perpetrators of the CharlieHebdo attacks in Paris as “young”, “bewildered” and “pitiable”. Correspondingly, references to the European colonisation of North-Africa and Western interventionism throughout the Middle East swiftly followed the Tunisian revelations, as they did when news broke about the CharlieHebdo shootings. Twitter became an incendiary firestorm as young, disillusioned revolutionaries began to type away, fulminating relentlessly about the hypocrisy of their own Western imperialist governments in their collective condemnation of this attack, carried out by oppressed brown people. “#WhitePrivilege,” they exclaimed. “Foreign-policy,” they shrieked.

Now imagine, for a second, if the situation was reversed. I mentioned earlier how Russell Brand described the murderers of Charlie-Hebdo’s staff with a triumvirate of flowery, borderline sympathetic adjectives. The question is: would he have produced similar language when discussing the character of Dylann Roof? Absolutely not. If anyone had used the words “young”, “bewildered” and “pitiable” in the same sentence as ‘Dylann Roof’, they would have faced instant and ubiquitous vilification, understandably so – because it’s decidedly unconscionable to talk about a mass-murderer in this way. It’s even more inappropriate to draw up extenuating circumstances for the murderers by attempting to justify their grievances, because ultimately, nothing can vindicate the gratuitous slaughter of innocent churchgoers, tourists and cartoonists. Nothing. Yes, I said it. Nothing.

Subsequently, consistency in our application of moral judgements is of paramount importance in examining world affairs. We should not allocate different standards to mass-murderers because of their nationality, their culture, or their personal background. Such an approach is invidious and partially symptomatic of the ‘soft-bigotry of low-expectations’ psyche that afflicts so many of the modern Left. Dylann Roof was instantaneously regarded as the epitome of unadulterated evil by almost everybody I encountered on social media. It’s a shame the Tunisia situation couldn’t have been straightforwardly encapsulated in a similar manner. To paraphrase Sam Harris: “Innocent tourists have been killed. End of moral analysis”.